Smoke Inhalation in Small Mammals

Smoke inhalation injury is direct damage to the airways and lung tissue caused by exposure to heat, particulate matter in smoke and the gaseous by-products of fire.

Smoke inhalation injury can be caused by:

Smoke inhalation injury can lead to bronchospasm and bronchoconstriction (spasming and constriction of the airways), carbon monoxide poisoning, pulmonary edema (accumulation of fluid in the lungs), acute respiratory distress (inability to breathe) and pneumonia. Smoke inhalation can be fatal.

What to Watch For


In addition to a thorough medical history and physical examination your veterinarian may recommend the following diagnostic procedures and/or diagnostic tests, specific for your pet. In larger small mammals, such as ferrets and rabbits, more aggressive tests and treatments are possible. For the rodents, many of these tests are not possible or cost prohibitive.


Treatments will vary depending on the severity of the smoke inhalation, the size of the pet and cost concerns. Typical treatment includes:

Additional treatments may include:

Home Care

Remove pets from burning buildings and transport to a veterinary hospital as quickly as possible. Do not place your own life at risk by attempting to rescue a pet from a burning building.

If possible, have firefighters or medical personnel at the site of the fire administer oxygen to pets suffering from smoke inhalation injury for 10 to 15 minutes prior to transport. Administering oxygen as soon as possible reduces the amount of carbon monoxide poisoning and may stabilize pets that are at risk of dying prior to reaching the hospital.